BAXTER -- The Baxter City Council meeting was going as planned with all council members present with the exception of Ron Steele until the Mayor’s Report.
There were quite a few questions from a concerned citizen before the approval of the 2013 budget. But, the budget was unanimously approved by the council.
Also, on the agenda was approving several ordinances. All ordinances were approved by the council, including Appropriation Ordinance 3260. The Standard Traffic Ordinance was approved along with the Uniform Public Offense Code.
Steve Boleck presented the council with a proposal for a car show on an empty lot across from the police station on Oct. 20. The use of the lot was approved by the council. He also asked for use of an electrical box for the event which was approved depending on if the city had one that was usable.
The only council member to bring up an issue was Randy Trease, who asked the council to contemplate opening a currently closed road to through traffic east of the river. Pros and cons were discussed, but no final decision was made.
Then controversy erupted as City Clerk Dona Wixon alleged Mayor Jenifer J. Bingham had used the city credit card to charge a total over five hundred dollars with no receipts. Bingham later stated that she would not turn in receipts to the city clerk.
Bingham has in the past refused to turn in credit card receipts to Wixon saying she does not trust her.
Bingham tried to replace Wixon in April, but was voted down by six council members who have been locked in a power struggle with the mayor ever since.
In turn, it was alleged that the city clerk had never paid for cable since she had been in office. Wixon and the so-called "Council Six" maintain she was authorized to do so to monitor the city cable system for outages at a council work session. Bingham has repeatedly asked for the minutes authorizing the free service but the city does not keep minutes at work sessions -- and is not required to.
During the mayor’s report, Bingham asked the council to contemplate how they would like to split the transient guest tax income. Also, the mayor asked to honor new Baxter Eagle Scout Eli Turner with a Shine Award at the next council meeting.
Then, the meeting took a wrong turn.
“I am baited at every turn. I am taunted on the front row," she said. "We have little fiascoes here between two-or-three at all times — I want the public to know what I am dealing with. It is third grade. It is Facebook nonsense.”
The mayor then asked to have a woman on the front row removed by a Baxter police officer after she spoke out of turn multiple times. During this time, another woman shot back at the mayor with a profanity.
“Its constant head shaking and comments. It's constant games — there are issues here," Bingham said. "There are definitely issues — it's six against two then against me."
Bingham also alleged the city clerk had a bill owed to the city that sat for two years and was never touched. During this time, another woman in the front row shot back at the mayor with a profanity.
The meeting final moved forward in the right direction with new business being discussed about road improvements.
One resident did defend council member Ron Steele but was concerned by his recent move to Riverton. It was a concern that no protocol was in place for when a council member moves out of his represented ward. It was stated that Steele would continue his work for the next two months and would be available for the constituents.